Don’t Be Afraid to Reschedule a Client Job Interview

lateThere are so many things that can make you late when you’re taking clients to a job interview. The van won’t start. That one guy was really late. You wasted 10 minutes looking for the stack of resumes prepared for the employer.

I can picture several times when this happened to me. I suspect I’m not alone, right?

Reading a recent article in made me realize that I should have handled these situations differently. It’s much better to call and ask to reschedule if you see that you’ll be late or arrive with frazzled and unfocused candidates. 

Everyone’s nervous anyway. A scramble to be on time or a frantic last minute group review en route can really mess up client confidence. Interviewers will usually honor a request to reschedule, especially if you make it clear that the reasons don’t reflect poorly on client timeliness or reliability.

Hmm.  Wish I’d thought of this myself a lot sooner.


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Reader Question: How Do You Create Unique Email and Phone Numbers for Each Client…


Rachel joined CCSWOH in January new to resettlement work. Her job focuses on in-house job readiness classes and in-house short term vocational training

….even if the client isn’t computer literate and doesn’t have a phone?

Rachel Wiers, Employment Specialist at Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio (CCSWOH) in Cincinnati needs a better solution for creating online applications that require a unique email address and phone number. She’s exhausted all of her team’s phone numbers.

The perfect solution is to spend enough time with each client to help them understand why and how they need to establish and monitor an email account. Rachel knows that, but it isn’t practical to make that happen every time, yet. Meanwhile clients need jobs.

I know this is a common problem because I had the same one. Instead of solving it, there’s a trail of blueunicorns@… email addresses on every free email service out there.

I know our network has better solutions than this. Please help Rachel with your advice by commenting on this blog post or by email at


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Consultative Selling: A Big Picture Conclusion

How Colorado and Nebraska’s adaptation of Allen Anderson’s model fits into our work.

A group of job developers from around the country formed a community of practice and have gone deep into consultative selling techniques over the past nine months.  We’ve talked about what’s working as people try new techniques and blend them into how they already approach working with employers.

We started at last year’s day-long session with Allen Anderson and peer leaders from Colorado and Nebraska at Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop in Omaha last November. We’ve all learned a lot, but hadn’t come to a conclusion about what we think about the model in our unique context.  Until our most recent conversation.

50% Consultative Selling. 50% Organic Client Solutions

Carol Tucker

Carol Tucker

Carol Tucker, Job Developer with Lutheran Family Services, Nebraska asked the central question in exactly the right way.

How much of your follow-up strategies to build and maintain employer relationships come from Allen Anderson’s consultative selling model and how much developed organically?

Hilary Lucas, Job Developer with Catholic Charities, Cleveland, one of the peer presenter in the session, summarized exactly what we’ve learned about the value of blending consultative selling techniques with the needs of our refugee clients and requirements of our program funding.

I’d say about 50/50.  Allen’s materials refined my strategies.  Much of what he says about needs analysis and selling simplified and clarified some ideas I was

Hilary Lucas

Hilary Lucas

struggling with.  The importance of a good opening line is one example.

Most of the client work is organic.  You have to come up with creative strategies to solve client issues.  Those can often lead to developing organizational approaches or solutions that could work in other client situations.  Many of our follow-up strategies blend with MG requirements, like the timing of follow-up calls.  Gauging the strength of employer relationships and keeping a strong focus on client needs combine to dictate most of that work.


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Informational Interviews

info interviewAn easy-to-understand explanation for you and your clients

Refugee job seekers need to develop networks in the U.S. Informational interviews are an accepted way to build contacts and learn more about their chosen industry here in the U.S.

It sounds good, but what does informational interview really mean and what are practical tips for doing it?

A U.S. news article includes this actual definition of an informational interview and some practical tips that are worth reading. They include how to prepare, what to ask, what NOT to ask and how to follow-up.

What is an informational interview? It refers to an informal conversation between two people, in which one person asks for advice on their career, an industry or a company. The end goal…is to have the person at the company refer them to their employer, but this should not be your expectation; this talk should be seen as an opportunity that could turn into bigger things.

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Email 101: a Two Part Series

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 8.42.09 PM

A screen shot from the infographic

Email signatures:  Make Sure You Have One. Today.

Social media, infographics and vlogs might be trendy. Email is the most common (and cheapest) form of business communication, though. That’s why we’ll offer two companion posts to help you get the most from your email.

Not having an email signature can mean that employers who want to follow-up take the easy path to call a staffing agency. Who knows when a contact suddenly hears about a job and needs to find you quickly?

It’s hard to contact decisions-makers when you’re prospecting.  You can often access high level employer contacts easily and directly via email. Don’t let that security guard or receptionist shut you down!

According to a careersherpa,net Infographic, 48% of professionals don’t have an email signature. This is no surprise based on how many emails in Higher’s inbox don’t include one.  

The Infographic offers  seven tips for creating a good email signature. You can read them for yourself here.  The most important thing is to start using an email signature today. A quick google search will give you easy instructions for how to set it up.  

Higher also advises to include your email signature in replies as well as email you generate. Send us an email to show off your new email signature!

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6 Things Good Employer Partners Do



What makes some employers work well for refugees – and others not so much?  

Sure, there are certain industries and entry level jobs that are our “go-to’s”.

Are there common corporate values or attitudes that predict successful refugee job placements?

Employers put so much emphasis on the importance of soft skills – attitudes and characteristics – in who they hire.

Could we avoid costly mistakes if we know the soft skills we need in employer partners?

Here are five multicultural soft skills from a recent article in and one more from Higher.

Send us your examples and additions at or add them in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

1. Avoid stereotypes
Be aware of business norms, but be open minded about your team members and how they communicate.

2. Calibrate
Adjust communication styles for different cultural norms.

3. Allow prep time
When facing a new situation or coming from a new culture, people need time to prepare.

4. Monitor team dynamics
Things will come up on multicultural teams. Be sure they don’t escalate. Empathy is important.

5. Breakdown barriers
Team building activities that allow team members to experience something together builds common experiences.

6. Talk to us
The most successful employer relationships we see across the country benefit from frequent and timely two-way communication. Employers call when there’s an issue. Agencies anticipate employer needs. Refugees benefit.

You may also be interested in these articles:

What Employers Look for in Entry-Level Job Candiates – via Lifehacker

3 Situations Where Cross-Cultural Communication Break Down – via Harvard Business Review

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Workforce Resource: On-the-Job Training

On the Job TrainingWelcome to the third post in our series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client caseloads and employer relationships. You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

In our first two posts we highlighted online tools that you can utilize in your job counseling and job development efforts. In the next few posts we want to shift to highlighting programs within the mainstream workforce system that can help your clients break into career fields that they are interested in.

Breaking into a Career through On-the-job Training

Breaking into one’s field of choice can be a challenge, even for native-born Americans. On-the-job Training (OJT) is funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and is one strategy for obtaining or updating skills and securing employment.

OJT is a win-win situation in which the OJT participant receives training and employment and the employer is reimbursed for the training costs (usually calculated at half the pay rate for the agreed-upon training period- although under the new WIOA legislation states can choose to increase employer reimbursement up to 75%).

OJT & Refugees

For refugees, OJT can be a strategic way to either re-enter one’s former industry or gain new skills that will put them on a stable career path in the US.

Because OJT is a comprehensive skills training program, it will be most useful for refugees with higher levels of English and literacy. Some programs, however, have found success placing LEP clients in OJT placements when there is a strong relationship between the employer and the refugee employment program in which they work as a team to make sure the OJT training is successful.

From the research Higher has done so far, refugees with backgrounds in “blue-collar” industries (e.g. construction, manufacturing) seem to be a particularly good fit for OJT, because of the experience they bring to the table, and because the federal reimbursement opportunity is attractive to small and medium sized business in these fields.

That being said, there have also been successful OJT placements with both high skilled refugees with more professional backgrounds and low-skilled refugees with little to no work background (see examples below).

Places Where it’s Worked

OmahaOmaha, NE:

Partnership: Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (Omaha) with WIOA Contractor Goodwill Industries of Omaha, NE

Population: Afghan SIVs

Industry: Construction


“With [WIOA/OJT] dollars and Lutheran Family Service’s reputation and connection to the community, we’re able to put together a package that speaks to a hiring manager or organization…and it’s quick—participants are getting enrolled in our program and within 3 or 4 weeks they’re working. We use our dollars to pay for tools, steel toed boots—whatever they need to be successful on the job, as well as paying money towards the employer for hiring through our program” –Justin Dougherty, (former) Director of Workforce Services, Goodwill Industries, Inc., Omaha, NE

Orlando__Lake_Eola_1Orlando, FL:

Partnership: Catholic Charities, Orlando, FL and local employers (Catholic Charities operates the OJT program in house using WIOA funds)

Populations: Cubans, Haitians, and Iraqis

Industries: Dentistry (Dental Assistant), Childcare (Assistant Teacher), Logistics/Warehouse, Hospitality (Maintenance Technicians and Front Desk), Food Processing

“OJT is a good option because it provides employment that is higher paying than most entry level positions, gives some clients an opportunity to continue in their field, and gives others a great ‘stepping stone’ job.” –Daisy Clemente, Employment Services Coordinator, Catholic Charities, Orlando, FL

Salt Lake CitySalt Lake City, UT:

Partnership: IRC, Salt Lake City, UT with Utah Department of Workforce Services Office

Populations: Sudanese, Burmese, Iraqi

Industries: Sewing, Construction/remodeling, Glass recycling


“We keep OJT in our back pocket as an incentive for employers who are a little hesitant [to hire refugees].” –Nolan LaBarge, Employment Specialist, IRC, Salt Lake City, Utah

Tips for Success

In talking to these 3 sites, some common themes emerged in terms of what made their OJT efforts successful:

  • Commit to learning the system: If you don’t already have someone on staff who has a background in mainstream workforce development, identify someone who can commit the time to learning the process and be the liaison between your office and the American Job Center (AJC). Additionally, look for allies within the mainstream system who are excited about your work and can give you an insider’s perspective on how to navigate the system.
  • Strong job development makes strong OJT placements: Often times it’s the employers you already have strong relationships with who will be most interested in placing your clients in OJT. You can also use OJT as a selling point when approaching new employers. Either way, you can put the opportunity on their radar and if they’re interested, you can can make the connection to the AJC to continue the process.
  • Provide good marketing materials for employers: In the same way that you provide employers good information about refugees, consider also leaving them with a nice brochure about OJT. Give them something to think about, and follow up with them shortly afterwards.
  • Offer employers additional support (coordinating interpretation, etc.): Let them know that you not only can provide them with strong candidates, but you are available to provide reasonable support to them to help with some of the challenges that come along with hiring refugees.
  • Make the right match: Always remember to take your clients past experience and skills into account when recommending them for OJT. While OJT may at times provide an opportunity for someone to learn completely new skills, the OJT program is primarily designed to be a skills upgrade program, and trainees are expected to begin contributing as productive workers on day one. The refugee programs that have found success with OJT have done so largely because they capitalized on skills their clients already had.

Getting Started & Learning More

If OJT is new for you, the best place to get started would be to contact your local American Job Center (AJC). Click here to find an AJC near you.

Once you identify the OJT resources and process in your community, you can begin marketing the program to employers that you work with.

The Employment Training Administration (ETA) is in the process of updating its’ OJT Toolkit which will be made available soon on the new Workforce GPS website, but in the meantime click here to access a recent webinar entitled “Strategies for Implementing OJT Simply and Effectively” as well as an OJT Training Brief and Resource Guide by the same name (you can find it in the left hand column called “Related Resources”).

Coming Soon…

Also, keep your eyes out in the next month or so for the next edition of our Workforce Collaboration Case Study Series, which will take a deeper look at the OJT partnership (highlighted briefly in this post) between Lutheran Family Services and Goodwill Industries in Omaha, NE.

Have You Placed Clients in OJT?

It’s impossible for us to know everything that everyone is doing out there. If you’ve placed clients in OJT, please let us know so that we can learn from your experiences as we continue to look at this strategy for refugee employment! Send us an email at


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Good Ideas to Celebrate World Refugee Day 2016

IMG_0526 (1)

Celebrating Refugee Day

World Refugee Day (June 20) is less than a month away.  

If you don’t yet have a plan for engaging your community, it’s not too late!

Check out this Higher post for seven ways you can engage employers around World Refugee Day.  And, here are four more creative examples from your peers’ 2015 World Refugee Day celebrations across the country.

Promote World Refugee Day and your communities’ celebrations with these two hashtags:  #WRD2016 and #withrefugees.  To make it even easier, get some quick facts and sample tweets, thanks to Refugee Council USA.

Tell us how you’ll showcase and engage employment partners on World Refugee Day this year at

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Using Data to Drive Job Development

With such limited time and capacity, you’ve got to make the most out of the time you have for Job Development.

Back in February, we highlighted some online industry research tools available on that can help Job Developers be strategic about what industries they pursue by looking at local labor market information such as fastest growing occupations, most total job openings and occupations with the largest employment.

We’ve recently come across a similar (though less extensive) resource that also presents labor market information, but in a format that is much more user-friendly and more visually appealing. provides a “graphic representation of occupation employment statistics.” The website was developed by SymSoft Solutions using open data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, and provides insights on employment trends and salary information for various occupations.

This helpful website allows you to view big-picture information such as top industries across the nation, or filter search results by occupation group, specific occupation, state or metro areas. For example, here is what you get when you filter results for “Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations” in the San Diego – Carlsbad, CA area:

Where are the Jobs Visual

We hope that this tool as well as the resources available at will increase your ability to use your time wisely and strategically identify the best opportunities for your clients.

If you have any stories about how you’ve used data-driven strategies to drive your job development efforts we’d love to hear them. Share your story by emailing us at or by using the comments section below.



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8 Steps to Get the Most from Cold Calling in a High Volume Shopping Area

Outdoor Shopping CenterThrowback Thursday: a classic Higher blog post about a fundamental of our work.

Cold call canvassing can be intimidating, but is one effective component of your job development strategy that you can’t afford to avoid.  Consider trying it in a high volume outdoor strip mall with a high volume and wide variety of retail businesses.

If you plan well, an afternoon’s work can net immediate job leads, numbers to call for future openings and even strategic employer contacts for longer term relationship development.

Sometimes getting out of the office helps you stay motivated and fueled with fresh ideas.  (And, if you happen into a DSW or Starbucks, a 10 minute break can really boost your energy level, as well.)

Here are 8 steps for making the most of this approach.  Gather your courage.  Make a plan.  Now, GO!

  1. Pick the best target.  Select a location on a bus line or accessible on-foot for a large number of clients.
  2. Come prepared.  Bring business cards, marketing materials and something to record information for your database and follow-up plans.
  3. Look the part.  Plan to dress appropriately since your first impression will be important.  Wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be walking a lot.
  4. Timing is critical.  Canvass businesses between 2:00 – 5:00 pm.  Noone wants to be bothered during the lunch rush.  Decision makers are often not on duty early in the morning or late in the work day.
  5. Jump on the openings you find.  You are very likely to identify a few immediate openings, some of which might not be advertised yet, so competition might be less.  Be prepared to respond to them within 24 hours at the latest.  Text or email them to your team immediately.  Have a couple of clients in mind so you can help them apply quickly.  You could even bring client resumes to lay the groundwork for them to respond in person.
  6. Be on the lookout for follow-up opportunities.  Note any employer that seems especially promising for longer term relationship building.  This won’t apply to every business in the shopping area, but you might find an interested manager or employee with some kind of connection you can leverage.
  7. Grab applications. They can be useful for future openings or to help clients practice completing them for general skill building.
  8. Don’t forget to capture basic information.  Include contact information, the application process, common types of jobs and any other details you can glean for your employer database.






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